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Archive-name: misc-kids/outdoor-activities/part4
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Last-Modified: February 13, 1995

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
           Frequently Asked Questions
         Outdoor Activities for Young Children (up to about age 8)
                                Part 4 (of 4)

Collection maintained by:  Gloria Logan  (
Last updated:  February 13, 1995
Copyright 1995, Gloria Logan.  Use and copying of this information are
permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.
To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address
given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on
Outdoor Activities for Young Children (if possible, specifiy the
subcatagory of your comments -- for example, CANOEING, BACKPACKING
TRIPS, INSECT REPELLANT, etc.)  Please try to be as concise as
possible, as these FAQ files tend to be quite long as it is.  When
you send your FAQ comments, please let me know whether or not you wish
to have your name and/or email address included in the FAQ with your
comments.  If you have already contributed to this FAQ and wish to
have your name and/or email address added to your contribution, please
let me know.

For a list of other FAQ files, look for the FAQ File Index posted to weekly or check the newsgroup.

This FAQ has been broken into four parts.

Roughly, the FAQ is organized as follows.  There is a lot of general
information overlap, however, so you may want to scan all of the FAQ
files.  The sections on CANOEING and GENERAL CAMPING have the most
widely-useful information.

------------------- Outdoor FAQ Part 1 (of 4) -------------------------
        TAHOE AREA
            ALPINE MEADOWS
            BEAR VALLEY
            SIERRA SKI RANCH
            SODA SPRINGS
            SUGAR BOWL
            SHASTA SKI PARK
            LAKE LOUISE
        TAHOE AREA

------------------- Outdoor FAQ Part 2 (of 4) -------------------------
    CANOEING (and good general info on outdoor living with kids)

------------------- Outdoor FAQ Part 3 (of 4) -------------------------

------------------- Outdoor FAQ Part 4 (of 4) -------------------------
    BIKE TRAILERS (and related products)

Outdoor FAQ Part 4 (of 4):


>During each of my son's first winter, we used a two-piece snowsuit.
>The jacket was enough for the car and trips to the store - sometimes I
>used long underwear under their pants if it was extra cold.  If we
>were going to be outside (for a walk), I would put the snowpants on
>too.  This worked fine for us.  

My son uses a snowsuit that consists of a jacket and overall-style snow
pants.  This has worked really well, and this winter will be his second
winter in this suit.  The overalls keep the snow from going down his
pants or up his back, and he can use the jacket by itself.  My mother
bought it for $30-40 at K-Mart, and it has held up great.

My daughter was born last January, and I used a Baby Bag for her, which
I highly recommend.  It was easy to slip her in and out of it.  She'd
often fall asleep after being in the car, and I'd bring her in the
house and unzip the Baby Bag without waking her up and let her sleep in
the carseat.  The only drawback for us was that she developed an
inexplicable hatred of the thing at about three months, and would not
tolerate being put in it, even if we left her arms out.  However, by
that time winter was almost over.

Even though we only used it for three months, it was worth it.  This
year, my daughter has a one-piece snowsuit.  I got this one just for
the warmth factor, since she won't be walking much this winter yet.  

See also GENERAL CAMPING and CANOEING for discussions of clothing


[no comments in this section yet]


With the summer season upon us and camping with our infant son just
around the corner, I would like to collect the net.wisdom on insect
repellents for infants/small children.

What would/wouldn't you recommend?

Have you used Formula 339 (all natural) sold in The Right Start 
Catalog?  Was it effective?

Here's the summary Laura gathered in 1992 and has tried to keep
Non-chemical methods:
clothes - long sleeves and pants keep bugs from biting
        - dress in neutral colors (bright colors attract bugs)

netting - buy it by the yard for cribs, strollers and hats
        - some baby supply stores make specially fitted covers

DEET: (active ingredient in most bug sprays)
- too toxic for children (MAY cause seizures in high concentrations)
- smells bad (causing headaches in some people)
- dilute with rubbing alcohol before using on children
- apply to child's clothes and let dry before dressing the child (this
  tends to keep bugs away from the skin as well as the clothed areas)
  (this also reduces/eliminates absorption into the skin
- pediatricians recommend not using on children
- journal article recommends not using 35% or higher concentrations on
- newly developed product (Skedaddle) using DEET in a non-absorbable
  base recommended by a pediatrician
Citronella: (natural ingredient in most "all natural" repellents)
- not as effective as DEET, requires frequent re-application for some
- not as harmful as DEET
- smells better than DEET
- may be what's in Avon's Skin-So-Soft (speculation)
- can get it at health stores and make your own solution
- OK'd by pediatricians
- if you're staying in one place (as opposed to hiking) you can burn
  citronella candles that keep the bugs away
Avon's Skin-So-Soft: (bath oil, face cream & skin lotion not specified)
- not as effective as DEET, requires frequent re-application for some
- not as harmful as DEET
- smells better than DEET
- works great for some, not for others
- not recommended by some pediatricians (unknown ingredients & effects)

We found a citronella lotion at the drug store that worked fine for us
under average buggy conditions.

everybody's going to say Skin SO Soft, from Avon, so i wanted to be the
first to get in and say it...  B)  although, personally, i don't use
anything.  i don't wear anything scented, and bugs ignore me.

Really?  I don't wear anything scented, and bugs LOVE me!  When my
husband and I hike I get all the bug bites!  Some people have all the

The only thing that works for us is commercial repellents with DEET.
However, we try not to apply it to Ben's skin - we dress him in long
sleeves, long pants, and apply the repellent to the clothes.  This
still seems to work OK for keeping them off the face and hands.

There was a good discussion of Skin-So-Soft on the net a few years
back. One article that was posted was a reprint from a medical
journal.  (Sorry, I don't have the original article, nor even a
reference to the journal. Maybe someone else on the net can help out
here.) It stated that that when SSS is applied directly to the skin
(as opposed to being used as a bath or shower gell) in quantities
necessary to act as an insect repellant, it can cause health problems.
The article listed all the possible effects, but the only one I can
remember now is that there was the potential for liver damage. I have
no idea (nor did the article state) the health problems caused by SSS
relative to the health problems caused by DEET, but it certainly made
me wonder if I was doing my kids any favour by using it.

Other articles I've read on SSS as an insect repellant have stated
that it does have some effectiveness (but nowhere near the
effectiveness of DEET) but that the effect is short lived and it must
be repeatedly applied.

Personally, I generally apply small amounts of DEET to their clothing
and hats, and dress them in long sleeves and pants if the insects are

Yesterday I asked my nearly-19-months-old daughter's pediatrician
about insect repellent.  Last year we discovered one called Green
Ban (extra strength) sold in health food stores.  It is mostly
citronella with a couple of other "oil ofs" that I can't remember.
I asked him about using it as opposed to Skin So Soft which gives
me an instant headache.  Her pediatrician said it was safe to use.
It works very well, having been field-tested in the northern-most,
bug-infested reaches of Quebec. I have personally have found myself
confused and feeling sick to my stomach after using DEET products, so
have been looking for an effective natural product.  This one
appears to be sanctioned by our pediatrician. By the way, he
also recommended 50 mg of vitamin B1 a day which is sweated out and
apparently stinks the bugs away! (Or something).

>Please tell me the name of the manufacturer of Skeedaddle insect
>repellant and the phone number if one is printed on the package.
>I'd like to find out who sells it in our neighborhood.  Thanks.

I finally went home and checked my bottle of Skeedaddle. The
number is 1-800-243-2929.

See also Kate Gregory's post under CANOEING - BUGS/SUNBURN.


See also GENERAL CAMPING for a discussion of backpacks.

When Keith was between four and six months, we started using the Tough
Traveler Keith was a small baby but enjoyed being in the backpack.  It
took a few times for Keith to get used to the backpack.  We also used
the snugli when he was younger but found it hard on our backs as he got
bigger.  I recommend getting a backpack that is on a backpack frame,
ie hip belt, large shoulder straps, sturdy frame.  We have been very
happy with Tough Traveler. We do lots of hiking (top of Half Dome 3
times).  Keith is now almost 3 yrs. We will be going to Switzerland and
I know I will be using the backpack a lot there.  If you are going to
do any amount of hiking get the Tough Traveler or something similar.
Your back will thank you.  Keith loves being in the backpack.  

Since he walks a fair distance now, we alternate with Keith walking,
then Keith in the backpack.  Keith will also nap while in the backpack.

We recently bought a Gerry baby backpack.  Although I'm happy with it,
my wife cannot use it.  Even with careful adjustment (additional
pointers welcome) we cannot get the hip pads to take a majority of the
weight.  Are there any success stories out there that involve proper
adjustment or a different brand  of babypack?

>Are there any success stories out there that involve proper
>adjustment or a different brand  of babypack?

Although it was more expensive, we bought a Tough Traveler backpack.
It easily adjusts between my husband's 6' frame and my 5'2" fame by
tightening/loosening 3 straps (2 shoulder and the hip belt).  We bought
this model because it has a regular backpack frame which we thought was
necessary since we were going to hike with our son who is growing like
Clifford the Big Red Dog. (at 12 months: 29 lbs)  We've definitely
gotten our money's worth since we both use it for going for walks,
shopping and hiking.

We have a hand-me-down Gerry pack without a hip belt that we used for a
while until Brendan got too heavy to carry on our shoulders. I've never
used an adjustable other than the TT mentioned above.

>Are there any success stories out there that involve proper
>adjustment or a different brand  of babypack?
I've got the 60lbs capacity Tough Traveler.  Yes, it's $100 or
so, but if you do a lot of hiking, it is easily justified.  We've
gone on 4 hour hikes with no problem.  We've also gone on hikes
with other parents who have cheaper packs, and we end up stopping
about every 15 min. because of a sore back or shoulders.

Look for a pack with firm padding on the shoulder straps and hip
belt, adjustable risers (to fit the height of the carrier) a  
ternum strap, and adjustment for the child's seat.  Most of the
good carriers have alot of the adjustments of a good backpack.

Chances are someone you know will have one.  Stores like REI rent them
by the day or weekend and will apply rent toward a purchase.

>Are there any success stories out there that involve proper
>adjustment or a different brand  of babypack?
We bought one of the Tough Traveler ones.  There are different sizes;
we bought the one for up to 60 lbs.  We really like it; it wears just
like a camping backpack.  Nice padding on shoulder straps & hip belt,
adjustable risers, sternum strap, etc.  We have let several people use
it, and once I show them how to adjust it, everyone thinks it's

Yes, it's about $100 (at REI).  But we do a lot of camping and hiking
on rough trail, so I want something that is safe and comfortable for
both Heather and me.

We've gone on 4 hour hikes with no problem.  We've also gone on hikes
with other parents who were using cheaper carriers that had to stop
about every 15 min. because of a sore back or shoulders.

It depends on how much you want to use it.  If you use it enough to
justify $100, do it; your child will only get heavier.

How to get a Tough Traveler a catalog:

Tough Traveler
1012 State St.
Schenectady, NY 12307
(518) 377-8526, (800)468-6844

At one time, TT told me that it was cheaper to order their child
carriers through LL Bean rather that directly from TT (due to the 
volume discount that TT gave to LL Bean).  I don't know if that is
still true.

BTW TT also makes a diaper bag (which we now use as our pool bag),
luggage and back packs, all of which we have been very pleased with.  

I have no affliation with them except as a satisfied customer. (We
bought hiking boots there, and the stitching on our son's broke in one
spot 4 months later.  They replaced the boots with ones THE NEXT SIZE
LARGER since he was almost ready for that size...  Now don't you all
wish you lived in Schenectady?)

The *Tough Traveller* backpack (the more expensive model) is a good
unit that I've been quite satisfied with.  One thing impressive about
it is that the designers came up with the only *quickly* adjustable
back height adjustment I've ever seen on a backpack; this is important
because Mom & Dad are seldom the same height. 

I made some useful modifications to the pack.

Most important:  I made the child's shoulder restraint straps easily  
adjustable by attaching them with plastic ladder buckles (the same kind
as found on the shoulder harness straps).  This way, you can quickly
loosen them each time you lift the child out.  I also replaced the
"male" half of the child's black plastic waist-strap buckle with an
identical day-glo one; this makes it a lot easier to locate in a hurry.

I also opened the seam on the cargo pocket and sewed in some straps
with which to tie it to the frame so it doesn't bounce against the
frame and make an infernal racket.
Some kind of bottle pocket that the child can reach would be helpful,
but I couldn't find a way to do it.
The pack is woefully short of cargo capacity, so it's helpful to sew on  
extra pockets for water bottles and small items like wallets, car keys,
If the pack squeaks, pull out the frame and wrap teflon plumber's tape  
around the top of the frame to lubricate it.

The newer models have an improved rain cover/sun shade;  the earlier
model was pretty bogus.

Don't feed children anything remotely chokable while you're carrying
them on your back because it's hard to watch them.
Some kind of bulky blanket is helpful to prop up the child's head when
she falls asleep.
I used to carry my daughter to the park by myself and found it
necessary to have all mittens, hats, etc. tied on with idiot strings if
I didn't want to turn around and backtrack a mile to look for them.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that it IS possible to put a 3
year-old piggy-back on top of a 50 lb. pack as long as the trail is not
stumbly (ooh, my aching neck...)

>The *Tough Traveller* backpack (the more expensive model) is a good
>unit that I've been quite satisfied with.  One thing impressive about
>it is that the designers came up with the only *quickly* adjustable
>back height adjustment I've ever seen on a backpack; this is important
>because Mom & Dad are seldom the same height. 

I can also vouch for the tough traveler: 
Anyone looking for the pack should know they have five models in the
product line, I am familiar with four of them:
COLT -    cheap little light weight pack
MONTANA - More rugid then the colt but not a very good frame
????? -   middle of the line, first model with decent frame.
KID CARRIER - Good Backpack 120-150$ depending on where you buy
              it, lot's of adjustments, very comfortable for a full
              days use. Carries up to 50 pounds in blue and red.
BRONCO or ???? - top of the line , adds better lumbar support carries
                 up to 60 pounds, comes in camoflauge (sp?) colors

LL BEAN no longer sells the Tough Traveler. They have an imported
variation on the same style.  It sells for $99.  A friend who has had
both (the stand on the Tough Traveler broke. LL Bean took it back.)
likes some of the features of the one LL Bean carries better. I haven't
personally tried it, but I love my Tough Traveller!

>Question for all those with Gerry backpacks:
>So, how does one take it apart to wash the canvas?  I've tried, but
>couldn't figure it out.  Is there a way to unsnap the metal frame

I always hosed mine down in the bathtub with my hand-held shower,
adding a little detergent rubbed in with a washcloth or scrub-brush.

We purchased the Tough Traveler pack for Benjamin when he was only 
7 months old.  At 19 months he continues to love it as do mommy and
daddy.  The complete line of Tough Travelers are well made, and come
with the essential waist belt.  To get a brochure on all of the Tough
Traveler Products I suggest calling the company at 1-800-468-6844.

They will mail you a brochure and tell you how to get a hold of 
the real thing in your neighborhood.  I purchased the Montana.  I also
considered the KELTY line of backpacks but they were too large for 
my 4-11 foot frame and more expensive. LL Bean and several other 
similar mail order houses sell the tough traveler packs with a
different label.

To give you an idea of what to look for:

Works for all the folks who might use it
Waist Belt
Diaper Bag attached 
Lots of places to adjest the fit and ride
Adjustable seat
Cannopy for sun protection
We took Ben and pack camping this past weekend. We hiked for three
hours at a time with son in tow.  He loved the hikes. Between hikes
we could not approach or move the pack without causing a false
alaram and having him crying for another ride.

We also have the Montana.  Originally we had the Kid Carrier, but
at the time it looked like it would be too much of a back pack for me.
Now, I don't know.  One feature that it had that I really liked is that
it has two quick releases on the harness while the Montana only has
one.  What I plan on doing is sewing on another quick release so the
harness won't have to be put over Savannah's head (makes life a little

Our Montana is purple and green too. . . A little different than the
blue and red you alway see around!

I would advise against the low end Tough Traveler, I believe it's
the Colt.  It's kind of cheesy and didn't seem like there was a good
deal of support or would fit a very large child.

we also have a Tough Traveler backpack for our son.  Even though he is
relatively light (~22lbs @ 21 months), the TT was very preferable to
the Gerry backpack we received as a gift.  The TT also has shoulder
straps that our Gerry lacked.  In the Gerry, when our son got angry,
he could "arch" his back with his feet on some part of the bp frame,
causing me to worry that he'd fling himself backward out of the bp!

If you plan to use the backpack a lot, I would by an expensive model
which is more like a backpack (padded shoulder straps, padded hip belt)
than just a baby carrier.  We had a Tough Traveler given to us by a
good friend.  We have been exceedingly happy with it.  Cost is about
 $100-120.  We have used the backpack since Keith was 4-6 months old.
Keith is now 3 yrs old (will be 4 in August).  But he is very light
--- 28 lbs with clothes on.  We do lots of hiking and some backpacking.
Keith has been up to the top of Half Dome 3 times and on one backpack
trip.  Because Tough Traveler is built more like a backpack it has a
frame and you are able to carry more of the weight on your hips.  My
only complaint is that I had to "sew" the straps which adjust the
position of the hip belt in reference to the backpack.  These straps
would come loose otherwise and I would end up carrying Keith's weight
on the shoulder straps instead of the hip straps.  Keith is into
walking more.  Just this past Sunday, he walked up to Hunters Point
(2 miles round trip) while walking Belka (one of our Samoyeds).  But
Keith still loves to ride in the backpack.  In fact, sometimes I would
prefer that he would like to walk more.

I think an expensive one is well worth the money in terms of comfort,
safety, and avoiding back trouble. One I can recommend from experience
is the Tommee Dream Rider. It's comfortable, robust, and so light that
I wondered if I had picked up an empty box by mistake :-)

IMHO, get an expensive one.  But of course, it does depend on how
you plan to use it.

Personally, I find that I have trouble tollerating 20# on my shoulders
for more than a few minutes.  With a Tough Traveller, I was able to
take walks of a couple miles - even after she weighed 40+ pounds (I am
a backpacker, so that much weight is normal for me).  Imagine an hour
shopping trip walking around a mall to realize the difference.  A
proper hip belt makes all the difference.  If you go to a better-
quality camping place (like REI) they can show you how to adjust the
straps so that the weight is really on your hips and not your shoulders.
I actualy like it more for shopping than a stroller.  My hand were
free, I could walk through restricted isles and ride escellators
easily, and my daughter could see better and so was happier.
The characteristics I looked for:
- comfortable hip suspension
- frame size appropriate for your body (like a back pack)
- good harness (including seat strap AND shoulder straps) to hold
  the child in - but one that is easy to use
- check out any small storage area (like under the child's seat) - for
  me this eliminated the need for diaper bag on short trips
- jerk, pull and worry at the seams - look to see that they are strong
  and not pulling out - to save material=money, some cheap companies
  skimp on seam allowances; the seams that pull out after a little wear
  and the pack becomes useless
- check the manufacturer's weight recommendations - consider how long
  you can use the pack before your child gets too big
Go to the store with your child.  Try on some of the packs, put your
child in them, and walk around the store.

Antelope Mountain Sports makes a kid seat that bolts to a standard pack
frame.  You probably have to drill two holes in the frame to match the
seat. We've had one for several years, and used it for backpacking with
a toddler and for taking walks with heavier kids.  The seats have
gotten more expensive.  I believe they're now about $60 (withOUT the
pack frame). Write or call:
                  Antelope Mountain Sports
                  288 Terraine
                  Cupertino, CA 95014
                  (408) 998-0431

Based on the models I've seen here in Canada (Tough Traveller,
Berghaus, Montanna, Gerry, and some nameless others) the only one I can
recommend is "Tough Traveller", either the Kid Carrier or the larger
Stallion model. They have very good side and head support, probably at
the cost of a little visibility for the child.  Best is they have a
proper backpack supension, and a lot of adjustment -- particularly for
the length of the back.
We've had Maxime in a Stallion all winter.  She was just able to sit
when we started, and probably weighed around 20lb.  I wouldn't say its
incredibly easy to get on and off, especially with a thick down jacket,
but its no worse than any of the others.  Also because of the good side
support, and a good over the shoulder restraining harnass, you dont
have to keep it vertical, and you can get away with a pretty hefty

It was a boon during our deep winter -- much easier than pushing a
pousett though snow banks.  Also I felt she was warmer on my back as
her body is down quite low and her face sheltered from the direct blast
of the wind. We often went out when it was around -20C (-4F).  Good for
taking her XC skiing as well.
The only problem is its a bit expensive -- around $150CDN -- which is
about the same price as a Perego pousset.

The UK supplier for Tough Travller backpacks is

9-13  North Gate Street

Telephone 01244-329331


>>> Get your kid a lifejacket!


>>> Even if the smallest lifejackets fit 20-30 lb and yours is ten lb,
>>> put them in the too-big one and make it fit somehow. This is a
>>> MUST if you are going on any boats at all. Beth wore a 20-30lb
>>> lifejacket at 5 weeks and 11 lbs when she went in our canoe for the
>>> first time.

I must disagree with this.  A lifejacket the wrong size, while better
than nothing, will probably not float a baby face up.  Unfortunately,
the only place I've seen infant lifejackets was on an airline, and it
was uninflated and stuffed into a pouch.  (BUT see below.)

>can anyone recommend a brand name for an infant life preserver?
>or at least some pointers on what i should be looking for.  i know
>some organizations approve certain models, i just don't know
>who those organizations are.  and where is the best place to
>purchase one (from an economic and selection standpoint)?.....
OK, I'll try to be more helpful:
Here in Madison, Wis. we have a store called Rutabaga which claims to
be the Midwest's largest paddlesport center.  I just called them,
and they have a lifejacket by Omega for children from 0-30lb. for $35.
They were out of them in the showroom when I called, but he said they
had some in the warehouse.  I have no relationship with these folks,
except as a customer, and I trust them.  He said they take mail orders,
and can be reached at (800) 236-6646.

I got a lifejacket for Ethan when he was about 1 year old, and he hated
it, so we never took him in the boat.  Now he's almost 2, and he likes
it. We went out in the canoe for about 10 minutes with him, and that
was as long as he wanted, so I'm glad we experimented. I got the first
one at a boat store, and returned it (I thought he might be too big for
it this year).  The second one is the same, and I got it at Toys R Us,
and I think it was $10 cheaper.  It was $20 or $30.  It is a common
brand, I think it starts with S (Stu--?).  They have them in the
standard boy idol and girl idol designs, but I got orange for sagety.
(I also installed reflectors all around our new wagon.) The toddler
model has a loop on the back so that if he falls in the water we can
grab him easily. I think that this model is more comfortable for
toddlers, but inappropriate for infants. (Min. weight 20 lb?)

One factor to consider is the color of the life preserver, particularly
as viewed from above while the child is in the water.  I'm appalled at
all the designer prints and colors on life preservers that seem to have
no thought toward visibility.  If a child fell off a boat, you'd want
to see them right away.  I insist on bright orange or yellow for my
kids.  (also doublecheck the top side of colors in the infanct/toddler

See also Kate Gregory's post under CANOEING - LIFEJACKET.

BIKE TRAILERS: (and related products)

I'm looking for a bicycle trailer for riding around with children.  I
ride about 10 mi/day (5 each way), so I'm interested in durability and
weight (or, lack thereof).  Cost, as always, is also a consideration.
Does anyone have any first-hand suggestions, or pointers to any
articles comparing various brands and models?

Thanks for the information.  Most of what I've gotten is a long list of
articles posted to rec.bicycles over the last few years.  However, the
concensus of that list and the other responses seems to be that either
Burley or Winchester are the trailers to buy.  If you like, I'll send
you the long list (about 2000 lines, some of which are duplicates).

I would like to second any recommendation for a Burley D'Lite.  We got
one and really liked it.  The advantages:

1) Easy to put on and take off a bike, so you can easily use the bike
solo to commute to work.

2) Tracks easily so is easy to pull.

3) Fits all bikes, so my (then) husband and I could BOTH use it.  I
have a child-size bike with 24-inch wheels (given my 4'10" this was
necessary) and the hitch works just as well as on 27-inch wheel bikes.
In fact, I could NOT get a over-the-wheel kid seat for my bike, so
trailers were the only choice.

4) Carries 2 kids AND junk.  I often gave rides to my daughters friends
at daycare (until the combined weight of 2 kids exceeded 60 pounds or
so). The only problem with the extra weight is that it is harder to
pull; you probably won't want to go very far with that kind of a load.
But the trailer did not seem to mind.

5) Seems much SAFER than with an over-the-wheel seat.

The only disadvantage that I can think of: cost.

Burley has a new product called the Burley 'Roo.  It has almost the
same hitch as the D'Lite.  The only difference in hitches is that the
universal flexible spring joint has been replaced by a flexible solid
rubber joint combined with a conventional hinge.  The hinge allows
usual right and left turning flexibility; the solid rubber shaft allows
the bicycle to fall without either turning over the trailer or breaking
the hitch.

After the hitch, the product implementation is very different from the
D'Lite.  The trailer sits two children.  It has no cargo space.  I'm
not sure if the roll bar and/or hitch fold.  The wheels are 16 inch and
solid spoked.  There is a non-conventional quick release mechanism.
The floor and seat are made from a single molded plastic tub.  I don't
know if a rain cover is available.  It comes with a safety flag and rear
reflectors standard.

Price ~$250 list.
I wouldn't want to use this for long tours (smaller nonstandard wheels,
lack of cargo space).  I wouldn't expect the trailer to last through
several kids and/or years (plastic tub, solid rubber universal joint).
It looks OK for tooling around town in a safer way than with rear child
carriers.  It is probably lighter than the more feature rich Winchester
(also about $250).

About a month ago, I posted asking for information on easy fastening
bike helmets for my three year old, who was getting a two wheeler for
his birthday.  Here is a summary.  I tried to email everyone, but I
am abysmal at keeping track!

Most people said that they had not found a helmet clasp that a three
year old could manipulate themselves.  Most kids seemed to be 6 or so
before they could routinely fasten it alone.  Several people
recommended a Bell brand helmet as very safe (meets both ANSI and SNELL

Here's our experience:  We first went to a specialty bike shop.  The
only brand of child's helmet they sold had a clasp that _I_ had a hard
time with, and both models cost almost $40!  So we went to Toy's R Us.

There we found about 6 different models, all with the buckle with
little plastic wings that you depress from the side, as found on many
highchairs, strollers, etc.  This seemed to be a much easier clasp to
work.  All the helmets were rated for SNELL standards, but I couldn't
find any ANSI markings on any of them.  We got a nice neon orange and
yellow (with reflective tape) model that matches his bike, for about
$25. (Sorry, I forget the manufacturer).
Brad LOVES his bike, and hasn't complained about the helmet at all.
In fact when the girl next door wanted to try his bike, he told her
she had to wear the helmet too.  (She doesn't wear a helmet riding her
own bike).  And the boy across the street has started BEGGING his
mother to buy him one - and after hearing my sister's bike accident
story, she said she would get him one.  So that will be at least two
kids in the neighborhood wearing them.

Brad CAN fasten his helmet, if we leave the chin strap just a little
loose.  I have been doing this for now, but about half the time he asks
me to put his helmet on for him.  I know leaving the strap loose
reduces the safety factor a bit, and as he gets better at working the
buckle I will tighten it.  But it does protect him.  Just yesterday he
had his first "real" crash, fell over and off the bike, and didn't get
hurt, even though the helmet hit the road.

A few caveats here.  First, the proper fit is important in a bike
helmet; if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, go to a good
bike store and let them fit your child.  Second, the helmet must be
worn properly for it to be of much use.  New Jersey law requires kids
under 14 to wear helmets -- but many of the kids I see just plop them
on there heads without any regard to how they should be worn.  (FYI --
the advice I've heard is that the front brim should be about 1" (2.5
cm) above the eyes.)
Also, last I heard, the Snell standards were (mostly) tougher than

The Burley is a great trailer, expect to pay $300-$350 for one,
including the covers. I have been pulling my daughter in a Winchester
trailer for several years and can recommend it highly. It is heavier
than the Burley but folds up just as well, has split seats (one facing
in each direction) and much bigger windows. You can get the Winchester
mail order from Colorado Cyclist for about $230. Their phone number is
Safety features to look for: five point harness, not just lap belts;
sides/windows so that kids can't get their hands/feet into the spokes;
"roll bar" i.e. the trailer frame is above the kids heads; swivel hitch
such that the bike can fall over but the trailer stays upright.
You can strap a car seat in most trailers, so as soon as you can put
your baby in your car, you can put her behind your bike! I began
pulling Lauren when she was about 10 months old and we felt she could
hold her head up wearing a helmet. But we've ridden many times with
people pulling two month old babies. There is even a couple riding
cross country with a 6 month old in a trailer!
I have a book out that has been published by EPM called "Family
Bicycling in the Washington-Baltimore Area" that has chapters on car
seats, trailers, tandems, and other ways to take kids along on family
rides. The book is available in B. Dalton, Barnes and Noble, Crown,
Olsons, and many other bookstores in the Baltimore-Washington area, or
by mail from EPM at 800-289-2339.

Just wanted to point out that rec.bicycles maintains a _large_ FAQ
file on bike trailers.  Excerpts from the general FAQ about it:

Bike Trailers
[Ed note:  The posting I saved on bike trailers is over 145k bytes, so
if you want a copy see the section on "Archives".]

I've made available via anonymous ftp a copy of the current FAQ and a
few other items on (  This is the
workstation on my desk, so I'd appreciate it if people would restrict
their use to 7pm-7am Pacific time.  The files are in pub/rec.bicycles.
For those without Internet access, you can use the ftpmail server at to get copies of the items there.  I really don't
have time to email copies of files to people who can't get at them
easily.  To use the FTP server, send an email message containing the
in the body of the message to  You'll get
a help file back from the FTP server with more information on how to
use it.
Here's what's available at this time:
     README for Rec.Bicycles Anonymous FTP area
trailers        A summary posting of messages about bike trailers.  Good
                stuff if you're thinking of buying a trailer.

We have 2 of the burleys.  The newest one is the "Burley Delite" which
folds down in about a minute to go in almost any car!!  Make sure you
rig up a sunshade --- what sun?? -- it really makes them cranky to have
the sun in their eyes!!  A couple of bungy cords and piece of fabric
work well and are adjustable to whereever the sun is!!  We started
hauling our son around when he was 7 weeks old -- just leave them in 
the car seat and strap the seat into the trailer.  Provides double
protection!!  When they are old enough to sit up in the trailer (1
yr??), put a helmet on them and remove the car seat.  As they get
older, you can put a water bottle carrier on the trailer frame with
hose clamps so the kids have some place for a bottle, can of juice etc
and you don't have to stop.  I don't care how nice trailers look, they
are a  *REAL DRAG* going into the wind - start your ride upwind and
then go back down wind to get home.

>Jeffrey is turning 3 soon, and we are thinking of buying him a 12"
>bike. He seems to be ready. The other day we were in a sporting good
>store and he had a lot of fun on a 16", even though it was way to big,
>he was able to peddle a bit. We just started to look, and havent yet
>checked out the cheaper alternatives (Toys R Us). We did go to a
>Bicycle Store today, and their one model was $80 on sale, $100
>normally.  I also just read the relevant section of the Toys FAQ. I
>have some questions -

I bike several hundred miles each year with my 12 year old son and two
year old daughter, and I have written on family cycling for several
parenting publications.  Here are my suggestions:

>1. How long do they usually fit on a 12"? Jeffrey is normal height. I
> saw a few kids zooming around on them at the park this weekend -
> without the training wheels. They looked like they were about 5 y.o,
> or close to it.

Kids don't last very long on 12" bikes, if you get your son started at
age 3, by age 5 (maybe even before that) he will be ready for a 16"
bike. The best bet for a 12" bike is to look at yard sales and pick one
up for $10-20. If you have other smaller children that might justify a
new bike for future hand me downs, or aren't big on used stuff, a toy
store 12" bike for under $70 will last as long as your 3 year old will
want to ride it. It depends more on his arm length than his leg length
- you can adjust the seat downwards, but you can't make it get closer
to the handlebars.
>2. The man at the bike store proudly told us that his bike had ball
> bearings, not bushings, like the ones at Toys R Us. What on earth is
> a bushing, and do I care? I dont expect that Jeffrey will be entering
> any races on this bike but I do care about safety. I also want a bike
> that will outlast his needs and his sisters. Will ball bearings give
> us more safety or durability?

Bushings are simply little metal sleeves that go over the bikes axle to
let the wheel turn more smoothly than if there were no bushings. Ball
bearings last longer, give a much more friction-less ride, and are
total overkill on a 12" bike that will not be used for very many miles.
When your child graduates to a 16" bike that might last him until he
is 10 or 11, or any bike past that, a bike shop bike is by far the best
choice over some $99 special at Toys R Us; a 12" bike from a toy or
department store will work fine. Bearings will last longer, but not
noticeably on a 12" bike carrying 40 to 60 pound kids.

By the way, there is really no safety-related reason for girls to ride
girls bikes. My wife insisted on one, but unless you or your daughters
plan on riding in evening gowns, the standard "boy's" bike is just as
good and is a little more durable.
>3. What is a reasonable amount to pay?
For a 12" bike, under $100 definitely, under $70 is possible. I really
recommend looking at yard sales. Recycling is the way to go!

>4. We plan to make a helmet mandatory. Any suggestions about helmets
> for young kids?

The best way to get your kids to wear a helmet is for you to wear a
helmet. Make it one of those adult things that kids think are
mysterious and exciting - like shaving or wearing a bra. My daughter 
Lauren hated her helmet when I first started pulling her in a trailer
at 10 months, by 2 years old she would be asking for her "hat" as soon
as I started getting the bikes out of the garage.  You can let them put
stickers on the helmet to make it more fun.

As far as what is a good helmet, anything with a SNELL or ANSI sticker
in it, preferably both, has met the applicable specs. Most helmets come
with a set of foam pads to fit different size heads. Try and choose the
helmet that fits your child's head using the smallest set of pads. A
helmet should be level and not move side to side or front to back on
your childs head. Helmets for small children (and bald me) should NOT
have vent holes or stripes - you will end up with funny sunburn
patterns on your kid's (or husband's) head!
If there is a lot of interest in this, I can post some of the text of
one the articles I have published. I also have a book, "Family
Bicycling in the Baltimore/Washington Area" coming out in May or June
by EPM.

Please, let me urge you not to put your small child on a bicycle. I
was a bicycle commuter for quite a few years, and got into several
accidents. If you get into any sort of accident, and the bicycle falls
over, your child's head will be spinning into traffic.

If you have doubts, try this experiment: practice riding your bike
and doing a controlled fall. Pretend a car door has swung out in front
of you. Notice where the rear of the bicycle goes if you fall. What
happens if your front wheel jams and you are flung over the front of
the bicycle? (This happened to me TWICE. Once I hit a pothole, and
once I was side-swiped by a teenage driver)

Repeat this experiment with a trailer if you are considering a
trailer. Strap a child-sized weight onto the trailer and practive
riding over potholes. What happens if a wheel of the trailer gets
caught in a crack in the road? What happens if a stick wedges between
the rear wheel of your bicycle and the trailer? What happens if the
trailer is sideswiped?

I don't think of myself as a fanatic, but seeing small children on
the backs of bicycles makes me REALLY nervous. Even in the country,
roads can be bad, shoulders narrow, and drivers are not expecting to
see you.

Well, as it happens, I've done this experiment, or something similar.
I've strapped a child-sized weight, namely my son, into the trailer,
and then ridden over potholes, on busy streets, on dirt, up and down
steep hills.  What happens if the trailer stops suddenly (if it gets
caught in a pothole, say, or more commonly for me if the gate I'm
trying to go through is wide enough for the bike but not the trailer)
is that the bike stops suddenly.  And I can report that either the
bike tips over, or the rider does some fast maneuvering to keep on her
feet.  And the passenger, strapped snugly in the trailer with an
ANSI--approved helmet, says "What happened, Mommy?  I don't like
that."  My experience, and that of my several trailer-using friends,
is that trailers tend to be noticed much better than cyclists without
trailers.  I don't recommend kid seats on bikes, but trailers are
great.  We use ours every day.  The only trouble is the price, but
hey, compared to a second car, it's pennies.
End of   "Outdoor Activities for Young Children" FAQ   Part 4 (of 4)

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